December 4, 2008

The old man's still got it

I was sitting in the backyard yesterday with my nonagenarian father when a hawk flew low over our heads. Fortunately, neither of my kids' pet rabbits, who live in the backyard, was out at the moment. Because I saw a hawk nearly catch one a couple of years ago, my policy is to drive away from my neighborhood any raptors that land in trees overlooking our yard. I want the predators to get an uncomfortable feeling about this neighborhood before they notice my rabbits, so I wave sticks at them and shout like a fool until they fly off for some place less weird.

But this hawk kept going and eventually landed on top of a 100 foot tall palm tree about a block away, but with a clear view down into my yard. Hawks have famously sharp eyesight, so they could easily spot my rabbits from that distances. But hawks aren't terribly skittish, so there's no way I could scare one out of that aerie from 100 feet below by waving a stick and shouting. (And no, I can't throw a rock or a lemon that high, and even if I could, my neighbors wouldn't appreciate projectiles falling back out of the sky from that height. And no, I'm not going shoot a gun up in the air in a crowded suburb.)

I'm stumped about how to get the hawk to move on.

My father says, "Go get a big mirror." I bring out one a couple of feet across. He says, "Reflect the sunlight on the hawk." The mirror projects a bright rectangle of light about the same size as itself, and it's pretty easy to aim. You just shoot the light at your fence directly under the palm tree that's a block away, then walk the beam of light up the tree trunk, until you are shining it right on the hawk. Dance it around him for awhile, and, sure enough, pretty soon he decides, "What the ... This place is freaky. I'm out of here," and flies off.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

27 comments:

headache said...

Great one. Congratulations to dad. The old man has a good mind.

rightsaidfred said...

Cool.

I live in an area where ground varmints are a problem, so we encourage winged predators by building perches.

Acilius said...

These narratives are terrific! You should write more of them. You really have a way of building suspense.

It's a good thing you've started with these now. Soon, Mr O will become president, and will solve all of American society's problems quickly and painlessly.

Danindc said...

Was it an owl or a hawk? Because if it was an owl I could have you arrested under penal code 16279 subsection 12B of the wildlife protection act.

Danindc said...

And I know what you're thinking Steve- all i did was flash a mirror at the owl/hawk, I can't be arrested....read subsection B

dearieme said...

Archimedes would be proud of you - or rather, of your old man.

eh said...

I'd think neighborhood cats would be more of a worry than hawks.

Anonymous said...

Ive heard that aphids can be repelled by mirrors. Put a mirror under the plant you want to protect and reflect the sky, confuses their navigational systems, they fly off.

Of course this might be an old wives tale.

*note to self; try and see if it works next summer.

outlaw josey wales said...

Danindc,

What is the "wildlife protection act"? There is no such act in the US, do you mean the Endangered Species Act?

The ESA prohibits "taking" (defined in section 1532(19) of the ESA) of an endangered species. Endangered species are listed in 50 C.F.R. 17.40.

I am quite certain that no case law exists to support your assertion that shining a light at an animal, even an endangered species, would constitute "taking" as defined by the ESA.

Is this an attempt to conflate the whole spotted owl issue with something completely unrelated?

Anonymous said...

Maybe somebody _should_ turn Steve in. Bush would eventually pardon him. (It wasn't for nothing that we just elected Bush-III.) In the meantime, he could be the Ezra Levant of the wildlife protection act.

headache said...

Danindc said...
Was it an owl or a hawk? Because if it was an owl I could have you arrested under penal code 16279 subsection 12B of the wildlife protection act."

Thanks for spoiling the party and acting like a Dem. Steve's old man did what we should be looking out for each day: being innovative.

Guts Strongman said...

I really thought you were going to sick a falcon on the owl / hawk, but your old man's solution seems much simpler.

Mazel tov on having such a long-lived first-degree relative, too.

AllanF said...

That's impossible. Based on everything I've read on the internets, between Flynn Effect and decreasing G with age, he should barely be able to drool on himself. :-)

BigWaveDave said...

Please take you magic mirror to Washington, DC and scare away a few of those ugly raptors now peering down at us, so eager to devour our paychecks.

I'm assuming, of course, that Pelosi, Boxer, and Feinstein are not protected species of wildlife.

Truth said...

If it was a chickenhawk, you could take it to an armed forces recruiter.

Svigor said...

Danindc finds the iSteve angle on the story. :)

Anonymous said...

uhhh...

So here we have indigenous wildlife you'd shoot if you could, to protect the number one prey animal you decided on a whim, one day, to let frolic around in your open back yard.

This bird is one of nature's natural wonders that has been clocked in a power dive at 240 mph, and breeds only once or twice a year, that you'd happily shoot in the head, to save an animal frequently bought to throw into either a large vietnamese pot, or a hungry python.

That doesn't seem like you, Steve.

It seems like ruthlessness driven by irrational passions.

I always thought you above that kind of circular reasoning, Steve.

I would think that because the hawks have been there at least hundreds of thousands of years before you have, you might cut them a little slack, and find a way to manage your game animals without disrupting those out in the wild, just trying to make a living.

I know you clearly stated that you didn't kill it, but the fact that you would if you could, is amazing to me.

Sincerely,
Longtime Fan

headache said...

So Steve,
are you in jail already? You have not been updating for a while, and then there is that statute about reflecting light unto owls of all people. I was always under the assumption you would be jailed for racism or insulting Obama, not for hassling owls.

beowulf said...

"There was only one unforeseen problem with the Crystal Palace. The building contained trees, and the trees contained sparrows, and the sparrows were not housebroken. It was really no laughing matter, especially as the birds couldn't be shot, and they ignored traps set for them. Finally the Queen herself was consulted, and she said, "Send for the Duke of Wellington:" The Duke was informed of the problem. "Try sparrow hawks, Ma'am," he suggested, and he was once more victorious."
http://www.scribd.com/doc/2159254/Michael-Crichton-The-Great-Train-Robbery

Anonymous said...

Very clever.

Anonymous said...

For some reason I thought both of your parents had passed. BTW, from the little we've heard about your dad, it sounds like you share an awful lot with him despite being adopted: very tall and very smart.

It's occurred to me recently what interesting times you were born into, something you mentioned when talking about shot gun marriages and the social climate pre-Roe. My mother, born in 1956, and her sisters always suspected my grandmother had a deep dark secret involving blackmail and her mother-in-law which she would share on her deathbed. Unfortunately, she was taken suddenly from us, but old letters found recently proved the that the story behind giving up her first born to live with her in-laws had been a lie: he wasn't given up due to finances at age 5, but was adopted out as soon as he was born.
Another thing, an older woman friend of mine in her early '60s just found out four weeks ago that she has a half-sister that her mother had given up for adoption... when the woman was an adult! The child was the product of an affair, yet my friend's father remained married to her mother and nobody knew about it.

Anonymous said...

Good for your dad, Steve, that he suggested a mirror rather than a shotgun.

I get the occasional hawk in my orchard. I know when they're about because my cat skulks into the house looking pissed off and other birds start shrieking.

cranky matron said...

Your dad sounds like a really fine old gentleman... much like my great-grandma, who is 88 and still sharp as a tack.

May we all be so lucky to live so long and still keep our minds!

Colby Cosh said...

At 63 my father can still shoot a Richardson's ground squirrel through the eye without a scope before I even spot the damn thing.

Blode032222 said...

that you'd happily shoot in the head ...

I know you clearly stated that you didn't kill it, but the fact that you would if you could, is amazing to me.
- Longtime Fan

Can you explain where you're getting this stuff? Sailer said he was trying to drive it away, and he ruled out using a gun for that purpose. He was obviously talking about using the crack of the gunshot (or perhaps the sound of pellets hitting the tree) to scare the bird off. Using blanks would have lessened the danger from falling objects, but wouldn't have lessened the danger of his neighbors calling the cops. (This wouldn't draw any attention in a rural area, or in parts of certain cities, but he's specified he lives in the suburbs.)

I think it is better in general for predators to not become reliant on eating domesticated creatures. It can make them lazy, draw them into areas where they could get hurt, make them unpopular with voters who would otherwise support conservation, etc. Sailer's plan to make them "uncomfortable" in the suburbs seems sound.

David said...

Blode032222, give it up.

No one can reason with a liberal.

They're like the hawk Steve expertly shooed away. But can we find a mirror and a sun bright enough to use on them? I mean Archimedes big.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Big mirror?

I'd have gotten a video camera, pointed it at the back yard and let the rabbits out to run.

Good times.